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I guess we all anticipate a drop in the fixed I bond rate, so it would seem smart to buy before Nov 1. How much lead time is there when you buy an I bond on the internet? Does the I bond have the same date as when you purchased it?

A couple of other questions about bonds. In the wake of 9/11, it would be nice to name a beneficiary on bonds held jointly. Bank CDs usually allow this as a POD or payable on death option. The option only applies when both joint owners have died (like in a plane crash). The way it looks to me however, only two names can be on the I bond. Since I bonds are relatively new, I wonder why the government limited them to just two names (the same as their older savings bonds).

If you use one of the two I bond names as a beneficiary, I wonder if that beneficiary has to sign just like a joint owner? Thanks.

Yes, you can purchase an I-bond and specify a beneficiary which will be listed as POD. This beneficiary doesn't have to sign anything.

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